Posted on Aug 22, 2010
September 23, 2010
Last Thursday evening at Back to School Night, I had the opportunity to talk about the Board of Trustees, including its purpose, achievements, and plans. The board is comprised of 18 volunteers, both parents and community members, who hold this school, its mission, and its future in trust. Its job is not to manage the school today, but to create the school from which your children’s children will benefit tomorrow. The board has responsibility for the financial and legal security of the school and to plan strategically for the future.
This year there are four new trustees who have generously agreed to share their time and talents for the benefit of the school: Jack Chitayat, Mary Talbot Fee, Briana Lichter, and Jennifer McIlvaine. These new trustees bring their expertise in education, finance, accounting, communication, and marketing. Mary Talbot Fee is a community board member with close ties to Kiwanis and Gillispie, having been both a past parent and a teacher.
Returning to the board’s first major responsibility, I am happy to report that Gillispie is in excellent financial health. We finished the 2009-10 school year with an operating surplus and a clean bill-of-health from our external auditors. Due to the generous contributions to the Annual Giving Campaign and Spring Gala, and the School’s careful budgeting and long-term financial planning, this year’s tuition increase is the lowest in eleven years. Keeping tuition affordable is a major priority of the board.
Last year saw the first opportunity for us to refinance the bond that was taken out in 2001 as part of the construction of the elementary school building. This opportunity coincided with historically low interest rates, allowing us to refinance with California Bank & Trust, saving the school almost $1 million over the next 10 years. I’d like to give special thanks for the leadership of Mike Reynolds, Finance Committee Chair, and Roberta Rosenthal, Business Manager, in the year-long appraisal of refinancing options that led to such a beneficial outcome for the school.
Last year, the board established a special Investment Committee to oversee the new Endowment for Excellence in Teaching funds. The Committee developed an investment policy and undertook a search for an investment manager, which led to the selection of Beacon Pointe Advisors by the board. So far, around $3 million has been received and placed with Beacon Pointe to be invested. The careful stewardship of these funds will ensure that Alison Fleming is able to fulfill the promise of excellence in teaching at the Gillispie School.
The board’s other major responsibility is to plan strategically for the future. The school is entering into the third year of its current strategic plan and will focus this year on revising the plan to determine what we intend to accomplish over the next 3 to 5 years and how we will direct the organization and its resources toward accomplishing these goals. As we go through this process we will be seeking input from both parents and faculty and paying attention to the CAIS/WASC recommendations of the accreditation committee.
President, Gillispie School Board of Trustees